Rafael Nadal scripted an epic comeback from two sets down to defeat Daniil Medvedev and win the Australian Open in Melbourne on Sunday. The result helped the 35-year-old become the first person to win 21 men’s singles Grand Slam titles.

The Spanish great looked dead and buried as the Russian world No 2 carved out a two-set lead but Nadal surged home for one of his mightiest comeback wins 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in five hours and 24 minutes at the Rod Laver Arena.

Nadal came out on top in the physical war of attrition to move ahead of “Big Three” rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on the all-time list of men’s major winners.

Djokovic missed his chance to improve on his nine Australian Open wins when he was deported over vaccination issues on the eve of the tournament, while Federer is injured.

It was one of the 35-year-old Spanish warrior’s greatest title victories in his 29th Grand Slam final as he won his second Australian Open, 13 years after his first in 2009.

Nadal also became only the fourth man to win each of the four Grand Slams twice and the third-oldest man in the Open Era (since 1970) to win a Grand Slam title, behind Ken Rosewall and Federer.

It was the fourth time in his storied career that Nadal had clawed back to win from two sets down, but the first time in a Slam final.

It was the second time Nadal had denied Medvedev in a Grand Slam final, winning a five-set epic at the 2019 US Open. Nadal holds a 4-1 lead over Medvedev in their five matches to date.

Nadal became the first player to win the Australian Open title from two sets down in the championship since 1965 when Roy Emerson defeated Fred Stolle 7-9 2-6 6-4 7-5 6-1.

It crowned an extraordinary effort from Nadal at the year’s opening major, having to modify his game to compensate for a degenerative bone disease in his left foot that ended his 2021 season last August. He then caught Covid in December which, he said, made him “very sick”.

Here’s a look at the stats and records after Nadal’s historic triumph:

Most men's singles Grand Slam titles

Player Titles
Rafael Nadal 21
Roger Federer 20
Novak Djokovic 20
Pete Sampras 14
Roy Emerson 12
Bjorn Borg 11
Rod Laver 11
Bill Tilden 10
Andre Agassi 8
Jimmy Connors 8
Ivan Lendl 8
Fred Perry 8
Ken Rosewall 8

Most tour titles in Open Era (since April 1968)

Player Titles
Jimmy Connors 109
Roger Federer 103
Ivan Lendl 94
Rafael Nadal 90
Novak Djokovic 86
John McEnroe 77
Rod Laver 72
Bjorn Borg 66
Ilie Nastase 64
Pete Sampras 64

Nadal's Grand Slam titles

Tournament Years
Australian Open 2009, 2022
French Open 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Wimbledon 2008, 2010
US Open 2010, 2013, 2017, 2019

Men to win all four Grand Slams multiple times

Australian Open French Open Wimbledon US Open
Rafael Nadal 2 13 2 4
Novak Djokovic 9 2 6 3
Roy Emerson 6 2 2 2
Rod Laver 3 2 4 2

Wins from two sets down by Nadal

Tournament Year Opponent Round Result
Australian Open 2022 Daniil Medvedev Final 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5
Wimbledon 2007 Mikhail Youzhny
Fourth 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2
Wimbledon 2006 Robert Kendrick
Second 6-7(4), 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-5, 6-4
Madrid Open 2005 Ivan Ljubicic Final 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3)

Nadal's record in five sets Grand Slam finals

Tournament Year Opponent Result
Australian Open 2022 Daniil Medvedev Won
US Open 2019 Daniil Medvedev Won
Australian Open 2017 Roger Federer Lost
Australian Open 2012 Novak Djokovic Lost
Australian Open 2009 Roger Federer Won
Wimbledon 2008 Roger Federer Won
Wimbledon 2007 Roger Federer Lost

Last win from two sets down in each Major final

Tournament Year Winner Loser
Australian Open 2022 Rafael Nadal Daniil Medvedev
French Open 2021 Novak Djokovic Stefanos Tsitsipas
Wimbledon 1927 Henri Cochet Jean Borotra
US Open
2020 Dominic Thiem Alexander Zverev

Inputs from AFP and ATP Media Info

Also read:

What would Rafa do?

Heart of the matter: For Rafa and his fans, this triumph is like seeing the light again

Watch: You don’t know how much I fought to be here, says history-maker Nadal

‘It has been a privilege to watch you’: Reactions to Nadal’s historic Aus Open win